The "Polly"

The Polly was an old barn where dances were held most Saturday nights. It was situated at the back of the Malt Shovel pub in Green Hall Lane and belonged to the then publican, Sam Brick.

It would be in the twenties. The Barn was two-storied with the Dance Hall on the ground level, while underneath pigs were kept. Dances were mostly the Lancers, Waltzes and all the old timers of that period. The Band consisted of old Joe Wilson on the concertina and George ‘Buffer’ Jones on the violin. After a couple of hours drinking good ale at the Malt the dance got going like a bomb. Most of the men were farm labourers or miners, the farm-hands being easily identified by the posh leggings they wore in those days. The ladies wore their Sunday best frocks. Sometimes Old Joe would doze off a bit and then the sounds were unbelievable but all in all, everyone enjoyed themselves. Sam Brick was all for the dances for then his beer trade was good, very good. There was of course the occasional ‘punch-up’, mostly over a girl I suppose, but it was soon sorted out and then back to the floor.

The Hall was lit by oil lamps placed every half dozen yards and garlands were hung up to make it look professional. Towards midnight, the noise of the dancers, the singing and sweating was tremendous. The cost to go in was 6d but even that was too much for some lads for 6d was 6d in those days. Some managed to get in free and that was something, for there were only two doors and one of those was kept locked. There was not much vandalism in those days but the youths were all for a bit of fun and very quick to size up the right time for it. The Polly was quite a good length but low with small windows. A small passage way led to the admission door and at the end were sacks of ground wheat for the pigs. The youths who could not get in because of financial troubles saw the chance of some fun one dance night. Quickly they dragged the bags to the entrance door and placed one on top of another with the ends opened. All this had to be done very quickly in case someone came out of the dance. They then dashed out into the Green Hall Lane and waited for things to happen. And they did.

The weight of the sacks made the door hard to open and it must have taken two or three men to do so. Then, crash – the bags fell into the Polly. White dust quickly spread through the hall and could be seen seeping through the little windows. The dancing came to an abrupt stop and the coughing, spitting and swearing was music to the youths’ ears. They were concealed by now, in the field, ready for a quick getaway. Then the dancers came staggering out, scrambling humans as white as snow. The dust settled rapidly and Joe and Buffer got their instruments going for the dance to continue, for nothing could stop the Saturday Night Hop. Many enquiries were made to find out ‘Who done it’ and it would have been Lord help the youths if ever they had been found out.

Later on the boar that was kept with the pigs underneath the dance hall died. It may have been from natural causes or perhaps from the noise of the dance but, whatever it was, the Polly came to an end. The ruins of the hall are still there [A new, stone building is now on the site]. It brought a lot of pleasure to the locals in the days when there was nothing in the village. Above the ruins are two large sand rocks made into steps. These were used for horsemen using the pub to mount or dismount easily. They are still there and may well be the only ones left in the village.

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